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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Types ▸ AgricultureView Options:  |  |  |   

Agriculture on Ancient Coins

Metapontion, Lucania, Italy, c. 330 - 290 B.C.

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Demeter in Greek mythology is the goddess of grain and fertility, the pure; nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death; and preserver of marriage and the sacred law. In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, dated to about the seventh century B.C. she is invoked as the "bringer of seasons," a subtle sign that she was worshiped long before she was made one of the Olympians. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that also predated the Olympian pantheon.
GS87799. Silver nomos, Johnston C6.2 (same dies); BMC Italy p. 252, 108; SNG ANS 489; SNG Mn 977; SNG Lockett 421; SNG Fitz 509; SNG Oxford 760; HN Italy 1589,, gVF, centered on a compact flan, die wear, highest points weakly struck, light marks, weight 7.889 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 330o, Metapontion mint, c. 330 - 290 B.C.; obverse head of Demeter left, wreathed in grain, wearing triple drop pendant earring; reverse barley ear with seven rows of grains, leaf on left, griffin springing right above leaf, ΛY below leaf, META on right; $350.00 (297.50)


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C., Lampsacus, Mysia

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In 45 B.C., Cleopatra and Caesarion, his son by her, were living in Caesar's villa on the Tiber just outside of Rome. Caesar and Cleopatra never married. Caesar was already married. Also, Roman law only recognized marriages between two Roman citizens. Romans did not consider their relationship adultery - a husband was free to have sex with slaves or unmarried women.

The reverse depicts the ritual founding of a Roman colony at Lampsacus, c. 45 B.C. Lampsacus and Parium were founded as twin colonies by Julius Caesar for his retiring veterans. The colony at Lampsacus disappeared after the city was occupied by Sextus Pompey.
RP86127. Bronze AE 22, RPC I 2268 (12 spec., 2 with this countermark), SNG BnF 1260, Waddington 930 (Parium), SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Mn -, SNG Tb -; c/m: Howgego -, aF, centered, green patina, rough, weight 7.935 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Lampsakos (Lapseki, Turkey) mint, c. 45 B.C.; obverse C G I L (Colonia Gemella(?) Iulia Lampsacus), laureate head of Julius Caesar right; countermark: LAE monogram(?) in rectangular punch; reverse Q LVCRETIP / L PONTIO / II- VIR / M TVRIO LEG (in four lines across fields and the last in exergue), priest plowing with two oxen, marking the pomerium (sacred boundary marking the foundation of a new Roman colony); very rare; $270.00 (229.50)


Leontini, Sicily, c. 405 - 402 B.C.

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Leontini was founded as by colonists from Naxos in 729 BC, itself a Chalcidian colony established five years earlier. It was the only significant Greek settlement in Sicily not located on the coast, being some 6 miles inland. The site, originally held by the Sicels, was seized by the Greeks owing to its command of the fertile plain to the north. The city was reduced to subject status in 498 BC by Hippocrates of Gela, and in 476 BC Hieron of Syracuse moved the inhabitants from Catania and Naxos to Leontini.
GI86576. Bronze tetras, Calciati III p. 77, 3/27 (this coin); SNG Cop 360; SNG ANS 270; SNG Morcom 606; SNG Lloyd 1070; BMC Sicily p. 92, 56; Laffaille 169; HGC 2 709 (R1), gVF, dark patina, well centered and struck, weight 2.165 g, maximum diameter 14.7 mm, Leontini mint, c. 405 - 402 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, olive leaf and olive behind; reverse tripod lebes with loop handles, a barley kernel flanking on each side, kithara between legs of tripod, three pellets in exergue; ex Roma Numismatics e-sale 6 (22 Feb 2014), lot 45; Calciati III plate coin! ; $160.00 (136.00)


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

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Bonus Eventus, the god of good outcomes, was originally worshiped by the Romans as a deity especially presiding over agriculture and successful harvests. During the Imperial era, he was associated with other types of success. The epithet Bonus, "the Good," is used with other abstract deities such as Bona Fortuna ("Good Fortune"), Bona Mens ("Good Thinking" or "Sound Mind"), and Bona Spes ("Good Hope," perhaps to be translated as "optimism"), as well as with the mysterious and multivalent Bona Dea, a goddess whose rites were celebrated by women.
RS87227. Silver denarius, RIC IV 347 (R); BMCRE V p. 83, 321; RSC III 66; cf. SRCV II 6267 (Emesa), aVF, tight flan cutting off parts of legends, small encrustations, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.853 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Alexandria mint, Feb - Aug 194 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE L SEP SEV PERT AVG, laureate head right; reverse BONI EVENTVS, Bonus Eventus standing left, basket of fruit in right, stalks of grain downward at side in left; rare; $130.00 (110.50)


Iol-Caesarea, Mauretania, North Africa, c. 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.

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Phoenicians from Carthage founded Iol as a trading station around 400 B.C. It became a part of the kingdom of Numidia under Jugurtha, c. 160 - 104 B.C. In 29 B.C., Roman emperor Augustus made the Numidian King Juba II and his wife Cleopatra Selene II (daughter of Marc Antony and Cleopatra of Egypt) king and queen of Mauretania. The capital was established at Iol, which was renamed Caesarea in honor of the emperor.
GB85358. Bronze 1/4 Unit, Alexandropoulos MAA 147; Falbe-Lindberg III, p. 177, 290 (uncertain mint); SNG Cop 684 var. (kerykeion obv. left), F, dark green patina, tight flan, light corrosion, weight 2.102 g, maximum diameter 15.4 mm, die axis 270o, Iol-Caesarea (Cherchell, Algeria) mint, c. 25 B.C. - 24 A.D.; obverse head of Isis left, wearing vulture crown and horned solar-disk headdress; reverse three ears of barley; extremely rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D.

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The elaborate Annona reverse composition reflects the special care Commodus took in supplying the much needed African grain to Rome (in fear of mob uprisings).
RS85777. Silver denarius, RSC II 467, Hunter II 24, RIC III 94, BMCRE IV 143 var. (obv. leg.), SRCV II -, VF, well centered, light toning, light marks and scratches, edge cracks, weight 3.376 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 184 A.D.; obverse M COMM ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P VIIII IMP VII COS IIII P P, modius with six heads of barley, four upward in center and one hanging down on each side; ; $125.00 (106.25)


Akrai, Sicily, c. 211 - 80 B.C.

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Akrai was a small colony founded by Syracuse in 664 B.C. to secure the inland road to Gela. Constructed on the peak of a hill, Akrai was difficult to attack and ideal for watching the surrounding territory. Loyal to Syracuse, it nevertheless had administrative and military autonomy. Thanks to its strategic position, the city achieved great prosperity, peaking during the reign of Hieron II, 275 - 215 B.C. Its coinage was only issued after the fall of Syracuse in 211 B.C. when it became part of the Roman province Acre. The city continued to be under Roman rule into the Byzantine period.
GI79952. Bronze AE 23, SNG ANS 902; SNG Cop 9; Calciati III p. 37, 1 var. (KP ligate); BMC Sicily p. 2, 1 var. (same); HGC 2 180 (S) var. (same); SNG Morcom -, aF, glossy lime-green patina, scratches, uneven strike, weight 7.517 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide, Sicily, Italy) mint, c. 210 - 80 B.C.; obverse head of Persephone right, hair rolled and wreathed with barley; reverse AK-P-AIΩN, Demeter standing left, wearing long chiton and peplos, torch in right hand, scepter in left hand; rare; $110.00 (93.50)


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.

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Ceres a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships, was listed among the Di Consentes, Rome's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.
RB64531. Bronze quadrans, RIC II.1 243, Cohen 17, VF, weight 2.181 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, obverse IMP DOMIT AVG GERM, bust of Ceres (possibly with the features of Domitia) left, wreathed with grain; reverse bundle of three poppies and four stalks of grain, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; rare; $100.00 (85.00)


Tamouda, Mauretania, 1st Century B.C.

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Tamuda (Tamusia) was founded by Berbers in the 3rd century B.C. There was likely a Phoenician presence in the next century, mainly for commerce. Rome occupied Tamuda during the reign of Augustus. Around 42 A.D., it was leveled by Roman garrisons during an insurrection. It was replaced with a fortified settlement, later a Roman castrum, and grew to be a major city of Mauretania Tingitana. Industry included fish salting and purple dye production. The region became fully Romanized, Christian and "pacified." By the time the Vandals arrived in the fifth century the city had disappeared from history and may have already been abandoned.
GB84542. Bronze AE 16, cf. Mazard 587 (anepigraphic), SNG Cop 719 (same), Mller Afrique 242 (neo-Punic TMDT behind head), SRCV II 6653 (same), F/VF, rough, dark green patina, weight 2.454 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 0o, Tamouda (near Tetouan, Morocco) mint, 2nd - 1st century B.C.; obverse bearded head right; reverse two heads of grain, meander symbol and pellet between them; ex-RBW Collection; rare; $100.00 (85.00)


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Annona was the goddess of harvest and her main attribute is grain. This reverse suggests the arrival of grain by sea from the provinces (especially from Africa) and its distribution to the people. By the Code De Naviculariis, the mariners appointed to carry grain from Egypt could be executed if they did not keep the proper course; and if they did not sail in the proper season, the master of the vessel would be banished.
RB65293. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 981, BMCRE IV 2038, SRCV II 4254, Cohen II -, F, nice portrait, uneven strike, reverse slightly off center, weight 21.364 g, maximum diameter 30.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 157 - 158 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II, laureate head right; reverse TR POT XXI COS IIII, Annona standing slightly slightly left, stalks of grain pointed downward in her right over modius overflowing with stalks of grain at feet on left, rudder vertical behind in left resting on prow of galley right, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $100.00 (85.00)




  



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Agriculture